Labor Leader of the Year
Kevin Van Buskirk, Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104
Life-long Contra Costa resident Kevin Van Buskirk attended Mount Diablo Unified Schools, graduating in June 1979. Kevin’s first job post-graduation was as a Teamster tire man in San Leandro where he worked until 1984. In 1984, Van Buskirk joined Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 as an indentured apprentice, embarking on a proud career of building Contra Costa and the Labor Movement. Van Buskirk’s first job was building the Chevron Campus in San Ramon for Marelich Mechanical. He “journeyed out” in 1988.
As an active union member Van Buskirk rose through the ranks, serving as journeyman, foreman and general foreman, attending meetings, pickets, protests, and conducting member safety education tail gates.
In November 1995, Business Manager, Robert G. Mammini appointed Van Buskirk Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union 104’s first full-time Organizer.
For the next five years, Van Buskirk organized the non-union workers and contractors through bottom up and top down organizing campaigns. One of his most memorable campaigns was as a salt in a non-union company that was breaking multiple laws. After nearly a year as a salt, Van Buskirk had collected enough evidence and the Santa Clara County District Attorney took the case and successfully prosecuted the contractor, who went to jail for wage theft and violations of prevailing wage and safety laws. As a result, this low-road, underground economy contractor was banned from bidding or working on prevailing wage projects for five years.
In 2000, Kevin was elected Business Representative for Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union 104, covering the Alameda/Contra Costa Counties jurisdiction. That same year, Van Buskirk became a delegate to both the Contra Costa AFL-CIO Labor Council and The Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council, becoming President of the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council as well as Vice-President of the Contra Costa Central Labor Council in 2007. Kevin has negotiated numerous contracts and Project Labor Agreements, which have provided prevailing wage jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for local residents and veterans.
Van Buskirk brings the same passion for organizing to his service on the Labor and Building Trades Councils that he brings to his work representing members of Sheet Metal Workers 104, mobilizing members for the many political, policy and solidarity campaigns that impact workers on the job and at home.
Van Buskirk and the leadership of Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 have a strong track record of member engagement in direct action. Sheet Metal Workers have participated in voter registration drives, precinct walks, phone banks, candidate interviews, solidarity rallies, pickets & protests – often identifying and recruiting younger members and apprentices into civic engagement.
Kevin knows firsthand that unions change lives. He credits the union for being able raise his family and achieve the American Dream. Van Buskirk believes there is no higher calling in the Labor Movement than that of the union organizer, whose job it is to educate, agitate, and mobilize members to improve the lives of working families on the job, in the community, in City Hall, Sacramento and Washington DC so that ALL families can achieve the American Dream.
Frances Perkins Award
Frances Schreiberg, Esq., Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood Law Firm
Fran Schreiberg became a lawyer to defend many forms of resistance during the height of the Vietnam anti-war movement. After graduating New York University School of Law, Schreiberg was admitted to the bar in New York and California.
Schreiberg’s first job in California was as a Deputy Public Defender for the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office. She also worked as an Adjunct Professor at University of San Francisco School of Law, after a serving as a Staff Attorney for New York’s Legal Aid Society.
An active union member during her career, it was natural that by the late ‘70s Schreiberg turned her skill and focus on defending the rights of workers.
Between 1978 and 1980, Fran Schreiberg served California at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board as a Special Assistant to General Counsel, Staff Trainer and Adjunct Hearing Officer. Schreiberg implemented training programs for attorneys and field officers and managed the unit that litigated the Salinas Valley strike access case.
In 1980, Fran worked as Special Assistant to Governor Jerry Brown to develop the first “Right-to-Know” legislation on toxic materials in the workplace. Schreiberg continued her successful advocacy for the health and safety of workers when she became the Supervising Attorney at the Bureau of Investigation for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), where she managed the criminal unit, supervising eleven investigators and attorneys and developing systems, policies and procedures that made workplaces safer for California’s workers.
At the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, Fran Schreiberg developed a legal and legislative program that monitored, analyzed, and later, lobbied and drafted legislation. Schreiberg represented the SBCTC and its affiliates by providing legal advice, technical assistance and training in the area of public contracting, public works and apprenticeships, occupational safety and health, and corporate research and investigation. While creating the training programs that became models for other states and expanded and continue in the building and construction industry today, Schreiberg was appointed to the Cal/OSHA Advisory Board.
Since 1991, Fran Schreiberg has served as the Pro-bono and Of Counsel to the firm of Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, where, in addition to continuing to focus on occupational health and safety, she improves the lives of workers in the area of workers’ compensation, tort liability and election law.
As the Executive Director of the Kazan McClain Partners Foundation, a public charity, Schreiberg supports community and civic organizations involved in researching, treating, or preventing occupational and environmental diseases. Since 1994, the Kazan McClain Partners Foundation has disbursed over $20 million in grants, including $5 million for mesothelioma research.
A founding member of WorkSafe! a worker health and safety advocacy organization, Schreiberg also serves on the board of the International Commission for Labor Rights. Schreiberg is a member of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating committee, the National Lawyers Guild, and Consumer Attorneys of California.
Community Allies Award
Multi-faith ACTION Coalition
“What more can we do to lift people out of poverty?” That was the question faith leaders asked in the winter of 2014 when the Multi-faith ACTION Coalition was formed. Over 200 people came together from different congregations that were feeding the hungry, providing shelter to the homeless and offering tutoring for the underserved, and wanted to advocate for change. They witnessed the number of families needing help were increasing and the opportunities for self-sufficiency were diminishing.
The Multi-faith ACTION Coalition represents Advocates & Communities Taking Initiative for Our Neighbors. Fifty congregations in Contra Costa County have participated in activities of the Coalition and added close to 500 advocates to the ACTION email list.
The Multi-faith ACTION Coalition has five task forces: Housing/Shelter, Food Security, Jobs, Education and Health. The chairs of these five task forces, in addition to clergy and other key individuals make up the Steering Committee.
After studying and discussing an issue, the Task Forces recommend ACTION to the Steering Committee. Action includes taking a position for or against legislation, testifying before a local elected body or a committee of the California Legislature, meeting with elected officials or asking advocates on the email distribution list to call or write a policy maker. All advocacy is to address the root causes of poverty though policy change.
Representatives of the Coalition partner with broader coalitions on specific policy positions, such as the CalFresh Working Group, the Zero: 2016 Campaign Leadership Council, Ensuring Opportunity to End Poverty in Contra Costa and #OneContraCosta. Bringing faith voices to the table lifts up the voices of the less advantaged.
Raising awareness about the issues of poverty in Contra Costa is central to the work of the Multi-faith ACTION Coalition. They sponsor and co-sponsor opportunities for faith communities and the larger community to learn about these issues, craft potential solutions, and take appropriate action.
Successful actions taken by the Coalition over the last year include:
- Supported Raise the Wage and collected more than 2,000 signatures for the initiative to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15. Worked with community groups and local leaders in El Cerrito to raise their wage to $15 by 2019.
- Successfully allocated for $250,000 to increase funding for homeless services and the family shelters in the 2016-17 Contra Costa County Budget.
- Joined with homeless advocates to support opening a Winter Shelter at the armory in Walnut Creek.
Supported and promoted the Contra Costa Cares program that provides health care services to 3,000 undocumented adults.
- Actively supporting state legislation including: AB 1584 to increase SSI benefits up to 100% of the poverty level, AB 1978 to provide protections to janitorial workers against sexual harassment and AB 2406 regarding Junior Accessory Dwelling ordinances to add more affordable housing for vital workers.
- Mobilized 25 Concord churches and faith leaders to stand up for affordable housing and good jobs in the Concord Naval Weapons Station Re-use Project in partnership with the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord.